What are your organization’s strategic initiatives, and how do you know if your board is effectively approaching and accomplishing the goals outlined by that initiative? Having the ability to benchmark successes and growth opportunities for your organization’s board is invaluable, and a best practice for obtaining and tracking that data is conducting a board assessment.
Board assessments allow your board members the opportunity to reflect on board performance as a whole while maintaining anonymity. Additionally, a board assessment should provide the opportunity for board members to reflect on their own engagement through a self-assessment evaluation. The goal of an assessment is not to rate performance, not in the traditional sense of “a score of 1 is bad and a score of 5 is good”. Rather, assessments open the door for honest reflection on core processes, and the opportunity to run through a sort of checks and balances – does your board review and approve the annual budget? Is your board utilizing executive sessions? Are board members able to distinguish between their role and the role of management? These are a few questions that may spur board thinking and action that, if not asked, could easily be overlooked.
There are no “right” or “wrong” answers in a board assessment. Results may indicate growth opportunities for the board, or they may indicate areas where growth has been accomplished. For this reason, it is recommended that board assessments be completed at least every two to three years. Being able to look at the current year’s assessment in comparison to prior years allows for reflection on goal accomplishment, and areas where there has been heightened/declining engagement and satisfaction among the board.
“Transparency is vulnerability, and offering a space to provide genuine input without fear of isolation is necessary to gauge an individual’s honest reflection of their experience as a board member.”
We all want to celebrate our successes, and at the same time, be clear about what isn’t going as well. That is why anonymity in the participation of board assessments is crucial. Transparency is vulnerability, and offering a space to provide genuine input without fear of isolation is necessary to gauge an individual’s honest reflection of their experience as a board member.
So, what do you do with a board assessment once you receive it? Review the final assessment report and identify several key takeaways. Focus on areas you can address with the board, and create an action plan to maintain ongoing improvement in those areas. Along with the action plan, celebrate areas of strength and growth.
MHS Association offers a board assessment tool that can be utilized by MHS Association members at no additional cost. If you are interested but your organization is not a member, that same tool can be offered at a fee. For more information on how to engage MHS Association’s board assessment tool, contact Riley Mills at email@example.com.
Board assessments offer the insight needed to determine areas of re-focusing that include core practices, fiduciary oversight, strategic engagement, generative work, organizational mission, and more. The value rests in the ability to gain the perspectives of your board and pull out common themes to further identify ways to stimulate ongoing learning and growth for the betterment of your organization.